Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Kathryn Smith - Taken By The Night - Brotherhood of Blood Series 2


Friday, the 13th of October, 1307
By order of the King of France, six mercenaries, raided a Templar’s keep to find the Holy Grail. They found a cup and all six drunk from it, except that the cup they drunk from was not the Holy Grail but the Unholy Grail. Their doom was sealed with this one action, for who drinks from the Unholy Grail becomes a son of Lilith, or better said, a vampire...

London, roughly at the turn of the century, 1900
Saint has come to London at the request of his good friend Madeline, who runs the notorious brothel Maison Rouge. Two of her girls have been murdered in the same way Jack the Ripper used to slay his victims and she wants him to investigate the murders discretely. But he also has to deal with Ivy, the daughter of Madeline, who had a crush on him as a young girl, she wants to avenge her friends but she puts herself at risk to do so. He knows better than to get involved but when another murder occurs he cannot stand by doing nothing when Ivy is in danger. He does not want to have feelings for her, he has suffered too many losses in the past and it hurts too much, but how can he resist such a passionate and courageous woman who would move heaven and earth to protect the people she cares for...

Ivy Dearing is determined to find out who killed her friends, she is quite sceptical about Saint helping them, all she knows about men is that they don’t keep their promises and always leave. As a young girl she had a crush on Saint and now after all those years she still has feelings for him. Together they investigate the murders and not only do they discover a conspiracy that has to do with Ivy but they also discover each other, they cannot deny the attraction between them. Given that Ivy is in grave danger Saints wants to keep her close, but she doesn’t want to be owned or claimed by any man, let alone Saint. She only wants a brief affair for she knows he will be leaving soon, but her heart totally disagrees and aches for him...

This is the third novel in the Brotherhood of Blood Series and it is yet again another fast-paced read and a real page turner. This time Kathryn Smith takes us to gloomy England and she has pulled it off once more to give this book a total different vibe then the two previous parts in this series. This is also one of the reasons this series is so much fun to read because it is so versatile.

The setting of this story is London and Kathryn Smith, as always, is capable of painting a vivid picture of the posh neighbourhoods and shabby alleys, she has described the Maison Rouge in detail and gives us a good image of the day-to-day life in a whorehouse. The plot of this story tells us yet another piece of the main plot that rises to the surface in each story of this series, it is cunning, intriguing and it leaves you craving for more. All you have to do is wait for the next part in the series to get another piece of the puzzle.

With Saint Kathryn Smith has created a tormented, seductive vampire who enjoys life but does not want to get involved with anyone, it hurts him too much to keep losing the people he loves. Ivy Dearing, the heroine, is this bold, strong-willed woman who has an odd hobby, she likes to photograph people in erotic poses and she wants to live an independent life, living at a whorehouse has taught her that love does not exist. The interactions between Saint and Ivy are intense, snappy and passionate.

Saint to Ivy and vice versa:

Tell him no.” “Why?” Face impassive, he turned the full force of his gaze on her. “You know why. Because you belong to me.” Her delicate jaw tightened. Not quite the declaration she had been expecting, obviously, but what kind of declaration did a man make to a woman who claimed not to believe in love? “Belong to you? You ass.”

This story has an engaging cast of secondary characters. For instance there is Justin Fontaine, he courts Ivy, he is cordial but has a hidden agenda. The staff of the Maison Rouge feels like a warm and loving family and then there is Ivy’s father, he is a nobleman who does not acknowledge Ivy as his daughter. And the mysterious Order of the Silver Palm gets mentioned again, this Order is obviously aiming at the Brotherhood of Blood, but the big question is why?

From page one this story captivated me and urged me to keep flipping the pages as fast as I could. Taken by the Night is yet another enthralling story that you will enjoy reading and leaves you hungry for more. I cannot wait to sink my teeth into another part of the Brotherhood of Blood series!

4 stars

Friday, April 11, 2008

Rona Sharon - Once A Rake


Once, the dashing major and Earl of Ashby was the most notorious rake of London, women swoon when they saw him, but that all changed when a canon-shell exploded in his face during the war with Napoleon. Devastated and feeling guilty over the death of his best friend Will, he retreats to his London townhouse, shuns society and lives as a recluse. Until she shows up at his doorstep, asking him to support her charity. The little girl, Isabel Aubrey, he once knew as Will’s little sister has full-grown in a beautiful and breathtaking woman. He still remembers the innocent kiss she stole from him as a girl, at that time Isabel was too young, however, the beautiful woman in front of him isn’t and she makes him feel alive again and slowly wakes up the rake in him. Now he is in pursuit of the one thing he wants most – her, he would do anything for her but he cannot give the one thing she asks for...

As a little girl, Isabel Aubrey used to have a big crush on Ashby, her brother’s best friend. Now she spends her time with pinching donations for her charity and is trying very hard to avoid the marital state her family wants for her. After seeing Ashby again she knows why, she still has it bad for him. He still is the dashing man she once knew even though he did not show her his face and is emotionally tormented by the war. She decides that she is going to save him from his solitary life and chase away the demons from the war. Soon the attraction between them crackles in the air and now she realises there will never be another man for her, if only he would feel the same about her, but he still refuses to show her his face and give her his trust...

Once A Rake is the second novel of Rona Sharon and it has a total different vibe to it then her first novel My Wicked Pirate, however the impact of this story is the same. From the moment your eyes make contact with the pages you will not be able to close the book and want to finish it in one-sitting, all 448 pages will keep you spellbound!

The setting for this story is London in the Regency period and though Rona Sharon paints a fantastic and very vivid picture of London in that period of time, do not expect a typical regency story. Forget the light-hearted courting of rogues, posh balls and ladies who only want to attract a husband and get ready for a Regency noir, a powerful and emotional gripping love story that focus solely on the relationship between two people and the obstacles, the misunderstandings and the past they have to overcome. This novel is all about trust, love and friendship.

The main characters of this story are Ashby and Isabel. Ashby is this tormented war hero who cannot forgive himself for the horrible things he had to do during the war and he loathes himself because of his face, he does not really live his life, he solely exists. Isabel is full of life, passionate and fights for her beliefs and the people she loves. Their attraction for one another changes from a smouldering fire into a blazing passion, you can actually feel the heat coming from the pages!

Isabel to Ashby and vice versa:

“What are you doing here? I thought you were a recluse, who never left his home.”
“Ashby Park is my home.” And it will be yours too, if you ‘ll have me.
She wouldn’t look at him. “What a coincidence that you should be visiting your country estate while I am happen to be spending the week on the neighbouring property.”
“There is no coincidence about my visit. I followed you, Isabel.”

The many secondary characters only add to the story. Ashby’s servants will make you laugh because they always try to carp Ashby and of course fail to do so, Lord John who tries to court Isabel is as slippery as an eel and will give you goose bumps, while Isabel’s friends Sophie and Iris will warm your heart with their loyalty and friendship. As for Isabel’s family, you can feel the love radiating from all of them. All these characters come to live due to the talented writing skill of Rona Sharon.

Once A Rake is an emotional gripping story that will pull at all your heartstrings. It is refreshing, delightfully different, fast-paced and has plenty of witty banter to keep you captivated till the last page. Rona Sharon has written another page turner and has effortlessly found her way to my keeper shelves!

4,5 stars

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Rona Sharon - My Wicked Pirate


Eros, also known as the Viper, is the most notorious pirate and privateer of the Caribbean. No one knows who he really is and he is wanted by the law. Now he has a mission, to save his beloved sister from Lucas Hunter, viscount Silverlake, who hunts him. Eros has abducted his betrothed Alanis and wants to exchange her for his sister. There is just one problem with his brilliant plan, his sister does not want to be saved for she and Lucas are in love. To help his sister he takes Alanis with him, he did not want to part with this stunning and feisty beauty anyway. He finds himself enchanted, not only because she is beautiful but because she offers him true friendship and a challenge he cannot resist. She stirs up feelings and emotions in him he thought were long gone, but can he really trust her for he has been betrayed so many times in his life...

Alanis, the granddaughter of the Duke of Dellamore, wants to escape her dull life in England and has sailed to Jamaica to surprise her fiancé and to set a wedding-date. She had not anticipated to be abducted by Eros or that her fiancé never had the intention of marrying her. Now she is at the mercy of this seductive pirate and if only for her impeccable reputation she cannot give in to him. Yet he arouses all these feelings inside her and she finds herself irresistible drawn to him. But each time she reaches out for him he pushes her away, can she truly love and help Eros if he does not trust her with his past or tell her his secrets that torment him...

My Wicked Pirate is the first novel of Rona Sharon and without a doubt it is an impressive debut. Rona Sharon is a gifted writer for she is capable of keeping you hypnotised from the first to the very last page. This stunning pirate story will make you devour all 432 pages in a heartbeat and it leaves you baffled at the end for you do not want it to end!

With her outstanding writing skill she takes you on a fabulous journey around the world without leaving your couch. With this story you will travel the world from the exotic shores of Jamaica and Tortuga to Algiers and Agadir with their Arabian 1001 nights vibe to sophisticated Italy, decadent France and haughty England. The plot of this story is really superb, it is exciting and thrilling, it has depth and it is drawn up brilliantly.

The couple and main characters that will accompany you on this journey are Eros and Alanis. Eros is this real complex man who struggles with any form of intimacy due to his past, he has been betrayed, his birthright was stolen from him and he considers himself a cursed man who does whatever it takes to reach his goal and have his revenge. Alanis is this beautiful and spirited lady who wants to escape her dull life in England, she is bold, outspoken and in pursuit of her own happiness. Their relationship develops slowly from a physical attraction into something much more meaningful and their interactions are snappy and sizzling hot!

Alanis to Eros and vice versa:

“No gentleman would dare speak of such matters.” “I never professed to being a gentleman. Too many taxing restrictions. I, tesoro, am free to do as I please, including undressing unwilling females”, he drawled, mentally licking his chops. She gave him a disparaging look. “You may roll that lolling tongue back into your mouth. You may not be a gentleman, but I am a lady”. His grin broadened into a full-blown smile. “All the more interesting”.

There are many secondary characters, all different and unique, adding even more debt to the story and most of them are necessary to understand the character development of Eros, because his life is the pivot on which everything hinges. Some of these secondary characters like Sanah, Nasrin and Sallah and even Eros sister are uplifting, while others such as Taofik and Cesare will give you the creeps. This variety of supporting characters makes sure this story is a fast-paced read and that it does not get tedious.

The pirate genre is a difficult genre to tackle, but with My Wicked Pirate Rona Sharon has succeeded to pen down a breathtaking and deep touching tale. With characters larger than life and witty banter this emotional gripping story is definitely a must read! I cannot wait to read her next novel.

Don’t miss out on this fabulous journey!

4,5 stars

Friday, April 4, 2008

Kathryn Smith - Be Mine Tonight - Brotherhood of Blood Series 1


Friday, the 13th of October, 1307
By order of the King of France, Severian de Foncé and his five friends, all mercenaries, raided a Templar’s keep to find the Holy Grail. They found a cup and all six drunk from it, except that the cup they drunk from was not the Holy Grail but the Unholy Grail. Their doom was sealed with this one action, for who drinks from the Unholy Grail becomes a son of Lilith, or better said, a vampire...

Tintagel, Cornwall, 1899
Prudence Ryland is a spirited woman who wants to enjoy every facet of life, but she is seriously ill and has not much time left in this world, she desperately wants to find the Holy Grail to prolong her life. The Church has given her permission for the excavation of a parcel of land where she is convinced the Grail is hidden, provided that she hands over the Grail if she finds it. The Church has send a historian to help her, a certain Mr. Chapel. She immediately feels attracted to this handsome, mysterious stranger who shuns the sunlight. He seems to like her too, could this be her chance of a life-time to experience unbridled passion?

Severian de Foncé now goes by the name of Chapel. He hopes to save his soul by serving the Church and to see to it that the Unholy Grail will never be found again. So now he is in Cornwall to protect the interests of the Church. The moment he meets Prudence he feels this strong attraction for her, she is the first woman in 600 years who touches his heart. Therefore, he is flabbergasted when he finds out why she so desperately wants to find the Holy Grail. He could save her life, he should because he does not want to lose her, but does he truly dare to risk her soul by giving her his immortal kiss?

This is the first part in the Brotherhood of Blood Series of Kathryn Smith and you better brace yourself for an intense and emotional roller coaster ride. This story was such a joy to read, it made me cry, it made me laugh, I kept turning the pages faster and faster because I could not get enough of it and wanted to know how it would end.

Seldom have I felt so connected with the hero and the heroine of a story. Prudence is such a courageous, stubborn and bold woman. She knows her time on earth is limited and tries to live her life to the max, therefore she doesn’t care a fat lot about propriety. Chapel is such a tormented guy, he believes that his being a vampire is a punishment from God, that he is a monster, he does not see all the good things he has done and how this effects other people. Their encounters are so intense that they vibrate from the pages! If ever a couple deserves a happy ending, it is this couple. Your heart just cries out for them.

Prudence to Chapel and vice versa:

“Oh? Is that my punishment for not kissing you?” “Not your punishment.” “Mine.” “Yours?” “Denying myself the taste of you has caused me more pain than you will ever know.”

Except for Father Molyneux and Marcus Grey, who we will meet again later on in this series, the supporting cast of characters is charming but definitely subordinate to the primary characters. This story is all about the plot and the relationship between Prudence and Chapel. With this first part Kathryn Smith lays the foundation of the Brotherhood of Blood and a stunning, original and intriguing plot that will have its grand finale much later on in this series, it undoubtedly will rise your blood pressure!

This addictive and dazzling story will pull at all your heartstrings! It is masterfully written and researched with charming characters of debt. This story will grab you and keep you glued to your seat! I am looking forward to read the next Brotherhood of Blood novel, because this one left me breathless!

Be Mine Tonight is top-notch entertainment!

4,5 stars